How to Recapture Disengaged Employees

by Derek Jones, 10 minutes read
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How to Recapture Disengaged Employees

What is a Disengaged Employee?

A disengaged employee is a term used to describe an employee that doesn’t feel happy or fulfilled at work and show their disinterest through a half-hearted work effort. Compare them to the engaged employees that are involved in their workplace, take initiative, and are committed to providing a great customer service experience, and the disengaged employees are very easy to spot.

How to Recapture Disengaged Employees

Also, many would be quick to assume that disengaged employees are just a fact of life when operating a retail business. In reality, there are plenty of retail employees that are actively engaged and doing what they’re supposed to. So the disengaged really have no area to complain.

The Engaged, The Not Engaged, and The Actively Disengaged Employee

Now that you have a clear idea of what makes up a disengaged employee, it’s time that you better understand the different levels that they present themselves so that you better understand what you’re dealing with.

  • Engaged Employees: These are the employees that you wake up in the morning and are thankful that they work for you. They show up on time, show passion in their work ethic, and are always willing to help a fellow co-worker or manager. These are the employees that push your business to new heights and should be given your full attention.

  • Not Engaged: Employees that are classified as “not engaged” don’t have any attachment to their workplace and usually can be seen doing the minimum to get by. Although they’re doing what they’re supposed to, unlike the engaged employee, they aren’t taking initiative and have a work ethic that could be improved on.

  • Disengaged Employees: These employees don’t want to be at work, don’t like working at their current company and aren’t afraid to show it. They feel like their needs aren’t being met and in turn, they display a work-ethic that isn’t up to par with company standards. They show up, do the bare minimum, then go home.

Facts & Statistics on Employee Disengagement

For a better idea of just how much of an issue employee disengagement is, take a look at these facts & statistics regarding the subject.

  • 51% of the workforce in the U.S. aren’t engaged.

  • Disengaged workers cause major losses in productivity that amounts to $450-$500 billion a year. (source)

  • Employees with a high confidence level in their company’s leadership are 5 times as likely to stay with their employer for more than 2 years, as compared to employees with no confidence (source)

  • 60% of employees in the U.S. reported having ways to provide feedback about their employee experience. (source)

  • Employers who act on their employee feedback are 4 times more likely to have their employees stay than employers who don’t. (source)

  • 23% of employees stated that more transparency regarding the current state of the business would push them to be more motivated and 14% would be less likely to take a competing job offer. (source)

  • Employees that have managers who regularly acknowledge their good work are 5 times more likely to stay at the company. (source)

These work to show that employee disengagement isn’t just a news topic that is brought up for talking points, it’s a real issue that is impacting a sizeable portion of employers and employees around the world.

Negative Effects of Disengaged Employees on your Workplace

With a better understanding of the different engagement levels that can occur within your workplace along with the prevalence of disengagement in general, you should also understand the exact negative effects that disengaged employees can have on your employees and workplace.

How to Recapture Disengaged Employees

Lower Productivity

As you saw in the stats above, disengaged employees can cause a drop in productivity that results in billions of dollars lost per year. This is because even a single employee that comes into work that isn’t as productive will knock everyone else off their game and cause them to have to work extra hard to pick up the slack. Also, seeing a single employee display traits of disengagement can spread to other employees that are easily influenced. That’s why having even one employee show signs of disengagement can grow to be a larger issue for your business.

Lost Revenue

The more engaged workers that your business has, the more revenue you’ll be bringing in. In fact, a Gallup study found that businesses with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 147% higher earnings per share compared to their competition. Further proving that ignoring the issue of disengaged employees can do serious damage to a business’s profits.

Bad Customer Service

Have you ever walked into a restaurant or business and was greeted by an employee that was blatantly not interested in assisting you in anyway?

They drag their feet, have an attitude, and make sure that you never visit that business again. Well, that’s what the disengaged employees in your business are doing to customers. They’re exhibiting traits of terrible customer service that are leading to bad Yelp reviews as well as heaps of customers to not want to return.

In fact, studies show that 70% of purchasing decisions are based on emotion, so if your customer-facing employees are showing traits of unenthusiasm and disinterest, you’ll be losing out on a great deal of revenue.

Damaged Employer Brand

If you want to attract all-star talent, then you’ll need an all-star employer brand. If you’re unfamiliar, your employer brand is the reputation that you have as an employer. It is also heavily influenced by what past & present employees are saying about working for your company. This is especially relevant in the age of Glassdoor reviews where employees are free to state exactly how they feel about an employer. So if your company’s reviews are tainted with feedback from disengaged employees, you can expect to lose out on a strong pipeline of great talent.

Ways to Recapture Disengaged Employees

Now that you’re better acquainted with some of the background information regarding disengaged employees, it’s time we tackled some of the best strategies & tactics used to lead them to be re-engaged!

1. Don’t Overreact

It’s understandable that having to deal with an employee that is actively hurting your revenue can be very frustrating and that you would rather cut to the chase and let the employee go. This emotion is normal but is also a rash decision that can come back to bite you and your organization.

This is because firing them just means that you’ll have to go back through the costly and timely process of having to find someone else. It’s also bad for team morale to see that you’re letting people go instead of trying to work through the issue (or issues) with them, and the last thing you want is for more members of your team to become disengaged. Plus it is a disadvantage for you because you aren’t getting to the bottom of the issue to prevent it from happening again in the future.

2. Begin keeping Records of what Employees are doing that is Signaling their Disengagement

If you have a meeting with an employee to discuss their levels of disengagement, there is a good chance that they’ll become defensive about the issue and try to prove themselves otherwise. At this point, it becomes tricky because it’s your word versus theirs.

If you begin keeping records of all of their infringements, though, you will be better equipped to explain the employee’s shortcomings in a face-to-face conversation. It will also help the employee come to the realization that they have been displaying traits of disengagement.

3. Begin a Dialogue

Don’t assume that the problem is necessarily always bigger than what it is, you’d be surprised to find that the issue that’s bugging the disengaged employee could be as simple as scheduling them for closing shifts instead of opening shifts.

How to Recapture Disengaged Employees

But the only way to figure that out in the first place is by sitting them down and starting the conversation in order to get to the root of the issue. Just make sure to have the conversation in private, as well as demonstrating that you’re truly concerned about the issue and not just doing it because you have to.

If things are too hectic for you to schedule a time to sit down with the employee or if you both are constantly working at different times, then consider trying out a software platform like Deputy that allows you to send individual messages to employees as well as optimize the way you handle your employee scheduling. To learn more, click on the button below to start your trial and see it in action for yourself.

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4. Ask them what they want out of their Jobs

Feelings of disengagement often stem from the employee not understanding what they really want out of their jobs or careers, even if it’s just a part-time job they have for spare cash.
If you see that their goals align with the goals of the company, then you know to keep working on the situation. If their goals don’t align, then this should signify that you should have a talk with them regarding their future with the organization.

5. Have them Understand that you’re on their Side

During your discussions, it’s important for them to understand that you’re coming from a place of empathy and that you aren’t just trying to look for an excuse to fire them. If they do get the feeling that they’re being attacked, they’ll immediately get defensive and won’t properly digest what you’re trying to tell them. You need them to feel relaxed in order to cooperatively tackle the issue of their disengagement.

6. Create and Set Goals Together

The best way to get them back on track is by setting goals that you create together, for the employee to work towards. For example, if an employee is frequently having issues with looking at their phones while being on the job, you can set a goal that they don’t look at their phones while on the job for the rest of the month. This directly addresses their shortcomings, as well as giving them an opportunity to show that they can change.

7. Have Clear Expectations of your Staff

If you leave your employees to their own devices, then there is a strong chance that they’ll quickly become disengaged due to not having any clear expectations or tangible definitions of success. Make sure that you are regularly taking the time to clearly state your expectations of employees as well as how you expect them to be fulfilled.

8. Share all news regarding the company, whether good or bad

Feelings of disengagement can often be attributed to employees feeling like they’re not that important to the company’s success and future. If they don’t feel like a valued member of the organization, feelings of disengagement can begin to stem.

That’s why you should take the time to fill all employees in on important news regarding the company. If your store got chosen to be featured in a popular local magazine, let your team know. If there’s another restaurant moving down the street that can pose as serious competition, also let your employees know.

9. Flexible Schedules

You’d be surprised by the amount of disengagement that stems from employees being frustrated over their schedules. Thankfully, it’s a pretty quick fix. Ask each employee individually which shifts they prefer to work and do your best to meet their requests.

How to Recapture Disengaged Employees

If that proves to be too much for you to handle, consider looking at how employee scheduling software like Deputy can help with creating schedules as well as letting your employees swap shifts amongst to better suit their needs. <span id="hs-cta-wrapper-16d4ab7c-812d-4148-8d8d-7e8ea0214011" class="hs-cta-wrapper"><span id="hs-cta-16d4ab7c-812d-4148-8d8d-7e8ea0214011" class="hs-cta-node hs-cta-16d4ab7c-812d-4148-8d8d-7e8ea0214011"></span></span>

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Closing thoughts

Many managers and business owners may assume that firing a disengaged employee is the best way to go about handling the issue. This is an emotional reaction that isn’t putting your business first. You should take the time to better understand the root of your employees’ disengagement so that you can effectively tackle the issue without having to worry about finding someone else, as well as having the issue continue to appear in more employees.

Remember that better scheduling is a great way to recapture your employees, so click on the button below to figure out how Deputy can strengthen your business.

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